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El Alamein-German lines hold?

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by Kai-Petri, Sep 8, 2003.

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  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Montgomery launches his attack in the North on the evening of 23rd October.During the night of 2/3rd November (!) Enigma decrypts reporting the enemy’s assessment of the fighting reach Eighth Army in a steady stream. A long emergency situation report from Rommel to Berlin confirms that his army ‘will no longer be in a position to prevent a further attempt by strong enemy tank formations to break through’.

    http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/

    In "Alamein" by Stephen Bungay 2002, it is mentioned that Monty for a while thought of ending the attack as the German lines were holding on after so many days. As he was informed that the Germans were on the edge of collapse
    ( decrypts ) he kept on attacking and broke through.So it seems that breaking the German code had a very important meaning for the victory in Alamein, it seems (?)

    What if he did not get the information and stopped the attack? A major propaganda loss, but could Monty keep his job, or Churchill? What do you think this might have done to the military situation in North Africa? Or would it have mattered in the end at all?
     
  2. reddog2k

    reddog2k Member

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    I really don't know what would happen, maybe the people of Egypt would have risen up to overthrow the British if they lost at El Alamien. From there the Germans could have invaded Iraq and seized their oil. It's possible that the Germans could have convinced the Turks to allow them to use their territory, and they could have launched a invasion of the Caucusses cripling the Soviet economy.

    Of course invading the Caucusses would have required the Germans to weaken other areas of the Eastern Front. Also the Caucusses aren't exactly 'tankable' ground like N. Africa.
     
  3. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Well, I think that only one things would have happened, and that is Mr Churchill sacking Monty and replacing him in the middle of the battle. Despite of that, the Axis forces weren't able to break through, so the line would have remained the same way for a few weeks more. No Alexandria, no Cairo and of course, no Suez.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Let´s say that Hitler decides to want Cairo and sends a couple of divisions to help Rommel, and also the 5th Army to protect Tunisia from the US troops landing ( operation Torch ). Now at least Rommel has the chance of holding North Africa.

    Would this at least cause friction between Russia and the western allied because the Russians were really desperate for the second front ( or maybe just Stalin´s politics...)?

    Who would it be after Monty in this case, ideas?
     
  5. camz

    camz Member

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    I read some where that rommel thought there was a spy in the italian army as mostly only the ships carying the 88's and other special munitions were hit by air attacks.If the codes were not broken i think rommel would of held out longer but would of been beaten back sooner or later.
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yep Camz,

    especially if Rommel would not get the supplies and more men and tanks then the result would be the Axis drievn out of North Africa. ( With the US troops pouring in that would eventually have happened anyway ).

    But the interesting question is if Monty had not succeeded what would happen. The allied had been losing all the while until Alamein and with another failed attack....???

    :confused:
     
  7. KnightMove

    KnightMove Ace

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    If he had stopped the attack, he would have re-attacked after being reinforced. The outcome would not have changed a great deal.
     
  8. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Let me start by saying that Rommel (nor anyone else for that matter) couldn't have supplied two more divisions as far forward as Alamein given the original logistical position of the Germans. Rommel was having great difficulty getting supplies forward for those troops he already had there. This, in a nutshell, is the German problem in N. Africa throughout this campaign, a lack of logistical and engineering support and planning. For instance, neither Bengahazi or Tobruck harbors were cleared or repaired by the Germans. This limited these two ports to just one or two ships at a time unloading. Ships couldn't anchor out and unload as the Germans (nor Italians) ever brought over any lighters or barges for this purpose.
    The lack of a rail line across Libya was also a major problem. If anything, Rommel needed several thousand Organization Todt workers and railroad engineers with proper equipment to lay track. This would have alleviated most of his supply problems in itself.
    Of course, if anything, the Germans were very poorly equipped and lacked good management and planning skills in the area of infrastructure and civil engineering. This led to massive wastage on every front, not just N. Africa (several thousand workers with nothing but picks and shovels don't accomplish much quickly).
    The reason far larger units could be supported in Tunisa was that there there were several large ports and, the French had developed more infrastructure that could support a larger army in the field.
     
  9. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    T.A. Gardner is right about having an important port to supply a very large Army. And Benghazi and Tobrouk weren't large enough. The British, in the other hand, had Alexandria.

    And the main question here is that Rommel was not getting his supplies. Why? MALTA and ULTRA. Enough for a devastating defeat.
     
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yep, Friedrich, no need to talk about supplies and where to offload them actually as Rommel did not get "any"...

    Ultra definitely is reason enough why the Germans lost the war..
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    The problem for Rommel was getting the supplies ashore and to the front, not across the Mediterranian. From 6/40 through 4/43 only 8% of the men and equipment sent to North Africa was lost and, only 16.3% of the supplies. At the time of Alamein Rommel was receiving (after losses) an average of 56,209 tons of supplies a month (yes, loss rates during this period ran higher at 35.5% but the amount being received was still good as shown above). The problem was that about 60% of the POL products delivered went into getting the rest of the supplies to the front. It also meant that over half the trucks in N. Africa that the Germans possessed did nothing but suttle supplies to the front.
    Had the Germans had a rail line across Libya available this would have freed thousands of rear area troops to the front along with vehicles and, would have alleviated the fuel shortage Rommel faced.
     
  12. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Again, right, T.A. However, carrying the supplies through the Mediterranean was the main issue. As Erwan Bergott says in his book "Akrika Korps"; a little bit more than 50% of Rommel supplies ended in the bottom of the Mediterranean. And the remaining 50% was scattered between Benghazi and El Alamein in all the lenght of the Via Balbia, where those supply lorries were a perfect target for the desert RAF. All these things mean that aproximately a tenth of all the supplies reach the front. A tenth of the total he was assigned.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Wonder if you got any details on the supplies ( that were destroyed by the allied ) in your sources T.A.?

    I mean that the allied did seem to have a keen interest on oil supplies so those were the ships that were sunk as priority. At least I have the picture that way from allied descriptions. No oil, no attack by the axis.

    [ 17. October 2003, 06:56 AM: Message edited by: Kai-Petri ]
     
  14. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    As I stated earlier, it wasn't getting the supplies to North Africa as was popularly believed but, getting them to the front once they arrived. The following table shows this:

    6/40 - 9/40 148,817 tons 0% lost. Italians begin operations in N. Africa

    10/40 - 1/41 197,742 tons 3.9% lost. British begin interdicting sea lanes. First British counteroffensive.

    2/41 - 6/41 447,815 tons 6.6% lost. First German/Italian air offensive against Malta. Germans begin operations in North Africa.

    7/41 - 12/41 356,294 tons 26.8% lost. British begin major effort to interdict sea traffic. British counteroffensive against Rommel.

    1/42 - 6/42 441,876 tons 6.2% lost. Germans start second Malta air offensive. Malta blockaded. German offensive in N. Africa.

    7/42 - 12/42 337,409 tons 35.5% lost. British begin serious sea interdiction. Alamein counter offensive.

    11/42 - 2/43 225,189 tons 21% lost. US lands in French territories. Major attempt to interdict Tunisian sea traffic.

    3/43 - 4/43 81,532 tons 42% lost. Axis defeated in N. Africa major withdrawal attempted.

    Now, this just covers the supply effort. Troop landings were generally far more successful with far less losses.
    In any case, what this shows is that the majority of supplies did arrive in N. Africa. What is not shown is that the inefficency on land was the primary cause of problems, particularly with fuel and POL products.
    As an example, it is roughly 300 miles from Tobruck to Alamein. It is about 1500 from Tripoli the major port of entry for most supplies. It took about 260 gallons of gasoline to deliver 1000 gallons from Tobruck and just over a gallon of gasoline to deliver a gallon from Tripoli. The round trip transit times were roughly 3 days for Tobruck and almost 2 weeks for Tripoli.
    When you add in wastage and what not, using trucks to bring the supplies forward was a major drain on everything. Without a rail line or a nearby port Rommel's forces were receiving very little of what was sent, particularly in fuel supplies.
    The Italian Navy did a good job of escorting convoys to and from N. Africa. Many of their destroyers clocking well over 100,000 miles at sea. It was Rommel and his staff that failed logistically, not the merchant ships and their Italian escorts bringing them to N. Africa.
     
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